Thanks to our technologically advanced and digitally connected society, social media has quickly become an increasingly useful tool for healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, with these great social platforms comes great responsibility, especially for medical professionals. While platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging and LinkedIn are excellent ways to share information, network and stay up to date on latest industry news, presenting and conducting yourself with proper online etiquette as a healthcare professional is critical. It is imperative that healthcare employees maintain patient confidentiality and privacy at all times while being a positive representation of their workplace, as any inappropriate use of social media can lead to disciplinary and even legal action.
Social Media Best Practice for Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare employees have to be conscious of what they're posting on social media platforms. Your online profiles are a public representative of not only yourself but also your profession and current or potential employer, so you'll want to give the world a positive impression.
Social media is an extremely valuable platform for accessing information quickly and communicating with others. Healthcare professionals can take advantage of social media strengths by using these tools and website to:
- Share general health information and educate the public
- Share the latest news regarding outbreaks, hazards or trends.
- Network with professionals both in their industry as well as other professions
- Provide updates on new technologies
- Provide insight into common questions
- Learn about new opportunities
Beneficial Ways that Healthcare Professionals Can Use Social Media
Various social media outlets and actions can be beneficial to healthcare professionals in the following ways.
For healthcare professionals who enjoy writing, blogging on industry topics in a positive and thought-provoking manner can establish them as subject matter experts. Maintaining an active industry blog can show the dedication the individual has to their field, help them stay educated and informed, and looks great to potential employers.
Twitter is one of the most popular sources for communication and news, especially in times of crises. From posting healthcare and safety notices to creating awareness about preventative health campaigns and educational tidbits, healthcare employees can effectively generate attention to health-related topics to create awareness and educate the public. In addition, Twitter acts as a newsfeed for trending topics that can help healthcare workers stay on top of the latest news, developments and information.
With the wide variety of demographics of Facebook users, healthcare professionals can use this platform to share resources like new articles, videos and images to help bridge the information gap between healthcare providers and patients.
As the social media platform known for professional networking, LinkedIn is an excellent platform for healthcare professionals to publish insight, connect with other industry professionals, network and stay up to date with their fields latest news, stories and trends.
What Healthcare Professionals Should Not Share On Social Media
When it comes to social media, it’s important to understand that privacy doesn’t truly exist. Regardless of any security features, once something has been posted on the internet, it will be there forever, even deleting it won’t simply get rid of it. Therefore, it’s crucial for healthcare professionals to think twice before making a post.
Healthcare employees must be cautious with the information they share online. In accordance with HIPPA laws, it is illegal and finable for a healthcare professional to purposely or accidentally share information about patients. Breaches of patient privacy and confidentiality can occur in different ways on social media:
- Photos or videos of patients, even if they cannot be identified
- Photos or videos of patients’ records
- Posts including any descriptions of patients, their conditions, and/or their treatments
- Referring to patients in a demeaning or negative manner
In addition to patient confidentially, there are other aspects that healthcare professionals should be conscious of not sharing on social platforms, including:
- Don’t share any proprietary business information regarding your employer
- Don’t share any negative or inappropriate information about your employer
- Don't post or share anything that you would be embarrassed to say to your boss or a potential employer
The key to successfully maintaining an online presence and identity is finding a happy and responsible middle between utilizing social media for both professional and personal benefits without breaking patient privacy and confidentially codes. In addition, your employer may also have their own policies regarding social media use, so be sure to be mindful and compliant with their standards as well.